A bold break with the past in Brazilian football: for the first time ever a woman, in the person of Sonia Denoncourt, will be officiating at a men's game in one of Brazil's top divisions. Denoncourt has been invited by the Paulista football federation to referee the opening match of the Paulista Championship (São Paulo State League) between São José and Palmeiras on 8 February.

Thirty-two-year-old Denoncourt is one of the most experienced women referees around, having officiated at the semifinal of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament between the USA and Norway last year, not to mention many other games. Denoncourt is one of the 56 international women referees from 39 countries featuring on the 1997 FIFA list.